A long-time internet friend of mine, Jackie, sent me an e-mail recently that gave me pause. She’s excited to be taking some really good pictures lately. Yeah, Jackie! But she had a million dollar question for me. Jackie wanted know how I figure out which few of my photos to share on my blog. It is quite a dilemma. Just on the Alaska trip, I took over 7000 photos. So she hit on a great inquiry about the thought process I use to whittle them down for sharing purposes.
Let me begin to explain by wandering around the question for a minute. I’m going to talk about writing first. Now, I wish I had one tenth of the eloquence that my friend, Jenny, possesses. She is a wordsmith of considerable talent, cut from the cloth of legendary southern writers with natural born ability. I’ve already told her that I will be busting my buttons when (not if) she is a celebrated, published author. That’s not to say that I can’t turn a phrase and hold my own with thoughtful prose. I surely can. But all those decades I spent in the technical and corporate worlds have stunted my vocabulary and routine sentence structure. I readily admit that my writing style is very direct. You don’t mince words in business. You say what needs to be said, without fanfare and descriptive adjectives.
So writing in this blogging venue the past (almost) four years has been a bit of a marathon training session for me. It doesn’t come easy to get stories out of my head and share my experiences. I’m still learning. I will probably never graduate beyond the novice class. But I know that I can tell a story or two with my photographs! And it is easier to describe my experiences with a few pictures to help prop me up.
Photography, thank goodness, is a language that everyone understands. Most of the photos I take may never see the light of day. That’s okay because they mean sometime to me. At this point in my life, I know how to take a good photo from a technical standpoint. And my digital editing has improved greatly since starting this blog. Presently, I am trying to stretch my compositions and search for scenes that are a bit different and/or have some whimsy. I am searching for moments in time that I can encapsulate for retelling or memory safekeeping.
Little did Jackie know that I am currently wrestling with decisions on which Katmai bear photographs to share with you. I have about 2000 of them! I will only visit the famous Alaskan Brooks River and cavort with grizzly bears once in this lifetime. So I filled up my digital cards with abandonment. But the ones with personalities will get top billing here on my blog. For example, there was a juvenile bear that proceeded to jump on a rock in the middle of the Brooks River and patiently waited there for well over an hour. I have dozens of images of her that are just precious - at least they are to me! I could bore you silly if I shared all the photos of the same bear sitting on the same rock. So I’ll restrain myself and narrow it down to perhaps two. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. In the art of sharing on a blog post, less is actually more.
As another example, I spent over an hour taking photos of puffins at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward. Yes, I can be a tad focused to the point of going overboard. I confess! But I had always wanted to see a puffin in real life and there was one in particular that practically flirted with me, coming so close that I could have reached out and petted it while he floated by. I cooed. He primped. We became friends. I have about two hundred photos of him, with all different kinds of expressions and poses. You have already seen a previous photo of him. I can’t resist sharing one more with you today. The rest in my digital library will comprise my personal travel memories, frozen in time, reminding me of when I got to spend a magical morning with a puffin. One doesn’t get to do such a thing very often. This wild creature was giving me a gift, by posing and allowing me to appreciate its beauty. I am confident that Mister Puffin would be exceedingly proud to be immortalized on the worldwide web. Hopefully, that message is clear when you gaze at his image.
So that’s the answer, dear Jackie and blogging friends. I select which photos to share by first deciding what I am trying to communicate. Images are a universal form of communication. You don’t need to consult a dictionary or thesaurus to understand a photograph. No translator is required! If my photographs entertain you, give you a sense of wonderment, teach you something new, tickle your funny bone, or move you in some way, then I successfully wove the tale (or tail) and shared my experience. We are both richer as a result.